A quick note about comic-con and mortality
This is going to be a weird post. I apologize in advance.
Recently, a friend of mine (who everyone presumed to be in good health) ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening prognosis. In his case, things got better, but not without some lasting changes in general perspective on life. We spoke briefly after the fact, and my big takeaway was the realization in him that we're not going to live forever. After a close brush with the grim guy, it's hard to look at life the same way...
Okay, so, here's your official TMI warning. If you don't want to know some gross stuff about me, feel free to skip the rest of this post.
A few weeks after my friend's surprise vacation to the hospital, I started developing some of my own weird mystery symptoms. I'm in a uniquely bad situation where I suffer from hypochondria and imposter syndrome at the same time. Which means I think everything is killing me, but I also think I'm faking every bit of pain. So, I did what I usually do in these situations, I complained about it to friends and ignored their advice to go and see a professional.
The pains were all over the place, so much that I couldn't really pin down one main ailment. I was achy, tired, nauseous, and generally feeling poorly. There was a near-constant migraine and heartburn. You know, pains that people get all the time, all happening at once. I just assumed it was normal, plus I had a lot of projects to work on, so I kept playing through the pain.
Then, when cramps and abdominal stuff got way bad, I went to my doctor to see if I had a hernia. He dismissed it as a UTI and gave me some antibiotics (that, in retrospect, probably saved my life). At this point, I didn't realize my appendix had ruptured...
About a week later, the fever was getting a lot worse, and the symptoms, like Danny Zuko's chills, were multiplying. Actually, chills was one of the new symptoms. As well as night sweats. Tinnitus. Seeing sparkly lights in one of my eyes. Got a brain fog so bad I couldn't remember my friends' names. At that point, it felt like a good time to call my doctor back. We assumed it was a bad reaction to the antibiotics, so we switched to a different one and scheduled an emergency appointment with a urologist... for four days later.
The urologist said it was nothing. He didn't do any tests other than a urine sample. He told me whatever was wrong with me should clear up on its own in a few days, then prescribed me some inflammation drugs and sent me on my way. After the 6th day straight with the fever in the 102 range, my partner forced me against my will to go to the emergency room. At this point, it had been over two weeks since my appendix had burst, and nobody knew.
When I got to the ER, most of the pain was in my head and groin area. The fever was the only thing that really triggered major red flags, so I was coded as possible sepsis. The hospital ordered bloodwork, urine tests, and an ultrasound of my downstairs. But everything came back clean. My white blood cell count was normal (because the antibiotics were keeping the infection at bay). My urine was clean (because it wasn't a UTI). The doctor came into the room with a smile and said, "Good news. We couldn't find anything wrong." Which was actually the opposite of good news. He said all of my tests were normal. We asked if maybe I had an undiagnosed hernia or something to explain all the pain, to which he responded without missing a beat, "No. It's not a hernia." He was ready to send us on our way, but this had been going on for so long that we insisted he do some more testing. He relented and said the only other test he could think of was a CT scan, but he really didn't think we were going to find anything, but it was our money so he'd do one (you crazy kids!).
An hour later, when he came back into the room with the results, he had a very strange look on his face. His first word was "Wow!" His second and third words were "acute appendicitis;" my partner and I high-fived.
I was admitted Saturday night and had surgery Sunday morning. Apparently, it's a bad idea to go that long with a ruptured appendix; the dang thing had adhered to all the surrounding tissue, plus formed an abscess for good measure. I've been on an IV drip of antibiotics until today, and I'll have a drain inside my torso for at least another week to get all the pain gravy out.
This wound is still fresh. I got discharged from the hospital a couple hours ago. My feelings are still kinda all over the place, but my big takeaways are how much I love my life and friends and family and how I am not ready to leave any of this behind and HOLY CRAP that could have been so much worse and I'm so glad I'm okay. I'm sure in time, I'll be able to distill these thoughts into something a bit more profound and poetic, but for now this is all I've got.
So, why am I sharing this? I guess for a few reasons. First, I hope this post might inspire some of you reading it to go and seize the day and do something you always wanted to do but kept putting off for another day (including going to the ER). If my experience can be a motivator, than I'll call that a win.
Second, and more importantly, I wanted to explain how there is an increasingly decent chance that I might not be at the Lafayette comic con this coming weekend, as originally planned. My pal Andrew has offered to do all the driving and lifting and manual stuff if it will make a difference, but I'm at the limitation of what my body will allow, and right now it will allow very modest physical activity. I know some of you have already purchased tickets to the con to see me, and I promise I will be there if it is possible. But staying alive is the priority. And if I do go, it's even more likely I will only be there for Saturday, but not Sunday. I'll keep you updated.
Third, as I mentioned like 11 paragraphs ago, sometimes I just like to complain to my friends. And all of y'all are my friends. So thank you for letting me vent.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go lay down for a second.